4 years, 6 months, and 26 days. 1668 days. 40,032 hours. 2,401,920 minutes. 144,115,200 seconds. Too long!

https://i1.wp.com/nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/Echinos/Pisaster%20ochraceus/P1120871b.jpg

https://i1.wp.com/www.lifesweeadventures.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Leather-Starfish.jpg

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I had a dream about you last night, Shosh.  I was helping you with your homework assignment on sharks.  We caught a baby shark, and I tried to put a nose ring on it to keep it on a leash.  Note to self: sharks hate nose rings.

Remember how we used to draw pictures of dinosaurs, construction equipment and starfish?  You used to have an immense curiosity about those things and we constantly read about or talked about them.  Once, when you were about 3 1/2, we were at the aquarium and looking at the tide pool/touch pool where a number of different starfish was on display.  You pointed to a starfish and said that it was a leather starfish (the second one above).  The aquarium guide “corrected” you and said it was an ocre starfish (the top one above).  You disagreed and tried to explain to her that it was a leather star.  She wouldn’t have it.  I smiled and told her that she should listen to you.  She decided to go off and consult her books.  Shortly thereafter, she returned to apologize and confirmed that it was a leather star.

Three lessons reveal themselves here.  First, don’t believe in “experts” just because they are experts.  Everyone makes mistakes.  Sometimes, “experts” are too smart for their own good and can be blinded by their own “expertise” and blinded to the data confronting them.  Second, always pursue what you love.  Be curious. Be intensely curious.  Life is an unlimited buffer if you nurture that curiosity.  Third, trust yourself.  Be willing to entertain other ideas, even opposing ideas, but never jettison your thoughts because it’s expedient, because an “expert” said you’re wrong, or because others disagree with you.  If you are right, you stay right even if everyone disagrees.  If you are wrong, you remain wrong even if everyone agrees.  Don’t worry everyone else.  Trust in yourself.

All my love, always,

Dad

4 years, 6 months, 25 days. Think for yourselves.

https://shoshandjaialai.files.wordpress.com/2017/08/e63a5-10commandments.jpg?w=1183&h=947

https://i1.wp.com/www.sundayschoollady.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/important-command-color.jpg

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I wonder what you’re like now at 16, Shosh.  Has your voice deepened?  Have you put on weight?  Are you still biting your nails?  (That’s a very unhealthy habit, and I hope you’ve long outgrown it.)  Do you own the room upon entry?  Do you think for yourself, or allow others to influence you?  How are you doing in school?  Who are your friends?  Have you made plans and preparations for college?  (You should be, if you are not already doing so.)  I have million and one questions.  But, I can’t engage in this exercise often for it reduces me to a useless lump of flesh that must will itself to breathe.  I hope that you are well, and that you are well along the path I laid out for you during our time together.

Boys, remember how I used to always say that your greatest weapon and tool is your brain?  It is.  With a sharp wit, a keen eye, and sound knowledge, you can extract yourself from most unpleasant situations.  Success may not be immediate, but it will come with time and perseverance.  I hope you’ve continued to use and sharpen those great tools of yours.

https://i0.wp.com/www.thesleuthjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/thomas-jefferson-government.jpg

Think for yourselves.  Don’t EVER allow others to do your thinking for you.  That never bodes well.

Note above how specific and detailed the 10 Commandments are.  God gave them to the people at a time when the latter were enslaved and uneducated.  However, when Jesus came much later, the people had been freed and educated.  Thus, he reduced the 10 commandments to only two: love God, and love your neighbors as yourself.

Jesus’s two commandments are the thinking man’s version.  A smart man can think for himself and figure out how best to live and to express himself.  He knows being a good person is about more than simply not killing, stealing, cheating, or bad-mouthing others.  A good man is also kind to those in pain, generous to those in need, firm with those who are unruly or unethical, etc.  Thus, the list for the uneducated and the unthinking is not sufficient.

Think for yourselves.  Never let anybody — not some hired marketer, not your teachers, and certainly never any government official —  tell you what or how to think.  Beware when they try.  Bad things follow.

Think for yourselves and arm yourselves with knowledge.  Don’t allow others to disarm you with empty promises, falsehoods, and lies.  Take care of yourselves and each other.

Until we reunite, I send you all my love, always,

Dad

 

 

4 years, 6 months, and 20 days. Avoid fake stuff (including processed foods and false friends).

https://i0.wp.com/alivebynature.com/june/wp-content/uploads/probiotic-foods.jpg

https://draxe.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/ProbioticGraphic.jpg

https://cdn.eatdrinkbetter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/probiotics1.jpg

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. We usually think of bacteria as something that causes diseases. But your body is full of bacteria, both good and bad. Probiotics are often called “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy.

Probiotics are naturally found in your body. You can also find them in some foods and supplements.

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/what-are-probiotics#

 

[I]t is the microbial content that has got health types excited – because bacteria are big news these days. More specifically, the 39tn microbes, weighing about as much as your brain, that live happily in your gut, the makeup of which, some evidence suggests, may have a significant effect on everything from your long-term weight to your current mood.

Unfortunately, the typical modern western menu does little to nourish this “huge alien ecosystem”, as Dr Michael Moseley puts it, under siege as it is from antibiotics and a deluge of cleaning products designed to sterilise every part of our existence. However much we may like junk food and chemical additives, our gut bacteria does not – and our increasingly narrow diet has led to a similar lack of diversity in our gut. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and the author of The Diet Myth, explains that if we “wipe out our gut microbes, then our immune system goes into autodrive and starts attacking us with autoimmune diseases and allergies”.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/26/does-kimchi-and-other-fermented-foods-give-you-more-fizz

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Remember the meals we used to have as a family?  I loved that you guys helped out in the kitchen — even when young — and made meal time a family affair.  That is what life is all about … time spent with loved ones, even tie spent doing the most mundane of activities.

These are the stuff good memories are made of.  No one remembers with fondness the hours in front of the TV eating microwaved food.  But, that was not your childhood with me.  We cooked together, ate together, and shared many good laughs.  I miss that. I miss it everyday.

Your mother was a lazy cook and was more prone to instant noodles than real meals made of fresh vegetables and proteins.  (For most of my marriage to your mother, either I or your grandmother cooked our meals — yes, I cooked more family meals than your mother despite my long work hours as a lawyer and consultant.)  Thus, because I’m no longer there, I want you to take charge of your eating habits and eat healthy.

Eat natural cheese, miso, pickled olives, yogurt, kimchi, and other food items that are rich in probiotics.  Avoid chips, instant noodles, canned food, frozen food, and other processed food items.  Too often, instant food are full of preservatives and chemicals — added to make the food last longer in the freezer, in the can, in the plastic bag, etc.  Eat fruits, vegetables, and other natural food.

Remember our many trips to the farmers’ markets?  Do that.  Drag your mom along if necessary.  Go outside.

Spend time outdoors.  I know your mom used to plant you guys in front of the TV and bought hand-held video games to babysit you.  But, now that you’re older, take charge of your lives.  Go outside.  Go with each other and watch out for one another.  Remember how we used to spend time at the neighborhood park almost every day with our friends and neighbors?  Do that.  It’s not only good for your health, but is also the stuff good memories are made of.

Finally, remember, all things will come to pass.  Even the successful and the great have no assurances that their futures will hold the same.  Let F. Lee Bailey’s story serve as a reminder of that. http://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a10284185/f-lee-bailey-oj-lawyer-interview/.  Let the fates of the former president of South Korea, Mrs. Park, the former prime minister of Pakistan, Mr. Sharif — both forced from high office for corruption — serve to remind you that money and power are not the end all.  See, e.g., http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/17/asia/south-korea-park-indictment/index.html; https://www.ksl.com/?nid=235&sid=45193281&title=disqualified-by-court-pakistans-prime-minister-steps-down.

Wealth, power, fame, etc., are for naught if you are not true to who you are.  Be true to yourselves.  Be you, but be the best you. Avoid false friends, and those who don’t tell you the truth, but only tell you what they think you want to hear.  Beware of such “friends” for they are anything but that.

Until we reunite, I send you all of my love, always

Dad

 

 

 

 

4 years, 5 months, and 11 days. Keep your eyes on the prize. Stay focused on your path to success.

https://bkc.name/wp-content/uploads/EnjoyLife-Series-033eyes-on-the-prize.png

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

I sit here and wonder where you are, what you are doing, whether you are having a good or bad day.  It’s hard.  I wish it weren’t so.  But, in life, we play the cards we are dealt.  Control is only an illusion.  As the saying goes, “Man plans.  God laughs.”

https://i1.wp.com/photos-ak.sparkpeople.com/2/4/b248359398.jpg

Plan anyway.  Plan for your future.  Work hard to achieve it.  Success is 95 percent sweat.  You must work hard to prepare yourself and be ready whenever opportunities for success present themselves.

Focus on schooling and on getting into the best colleges you can.  Better colleges create better first opportunities for you.  In other words, you can still be successful if you do not attend a top-ranked college, but your road to success would be made more difficult.  Others are more likely to invest in your future if the likes of Harvard, Stanford, Duke, etc., have already vetted you and found you desirable.  Success breeds success, my sons.

Look at your cousins.  Which ones have a brighter future?  Those who studied hard and have achieved a good college education, or those without?  Your cousins on your mother’s side are roofers, paintbrush makers, fast food workers, etc., while your cousins on my side are engineers, designers, executives, etc.  Success rarely comes by accident.

Aim for success.  Keep your eyes on that prize, and work towards it.

All my love, always,

Dad

 

4 years, 3 months, and 4 days. Remember to breathe deeply, and recipes for simple meals.

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/29/0d/2a/290d2a835021e2a80050ab76d41d7b70.jpg

For generations, mothers have encouraged children to take long, slow breaths to fight anxiety. A long tradition of meditation likewise uses controlled breathing to induce tranquillity.

Now scientists at Stanford University may have uncovered for the first time why taking deep breaths can be so calming.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/well/move/what-chill-mice-can-teach-us-about-keeping-calm.html?_r=0

My dearest and most beloved Shosh and Jaialai:

Breathe, my sons.  When anxious or stressed, just take deep breaths and breathe your way to calmness and peace.

I know must be very hard for you without me there.  Shosh, I remember that one time after your mom and I had separated, I came to your school concert, and, afterwards, you just came up to me, leaned your head against my shoulder and cried for the longest time.  I worry for you because you wear your heart on your sleeve and you are my sensitive boy.  Jaialai, I equally worry about you because you are introverted and hold everything in.  As your child therapist said, you worry about whether you’ll get your needs met.  I worry because if only your mom had attended more of the debriefings following your weekly therapy (which I paid for out of pocket), she would have better understood your needs.  As it was, she attended only one debriefing during your year and a half in therapy.  I took you boys to therapy every week, even on weeks when you stayed with your mom.

God, I miss you guys!  It is a physical pain, not just an emotional state of grief.  Know that no matter what happens, I will always love you.  Also, remember, it’s what people do that counts, not what they say.  Actions speak louder than words.

I also worry about what and how you’re eating.  Back then, despite working 90-100 hours per week in a high paying and stressful job, it was your maternal grandmother and I who did most of the cooking everyday.  Now that your maternal grandmother had passed away and I am not there, who cooks for you?  What do you eat?

Shosh, you are older.  I suspect the burden falls to you now.  I’m sorry.  Learn to prepare easy but healthy meals.  Don’t over-indulge in the spicy Korean noodles, which I know you love, Shosh.  Remember, Jaialai said you once ate so much at your mom’s that it made you throw up?

Try not to eat out too often.  In the divorce filings, your mother’s financial records showed that she spent almost $1000 per month eating out everyday.  I hope that is not happening.  Restaurant food tend to be tasty but less healthy for your because they have greater salt content, etc.

Yesterday, I made the Caveman version my favorite snacks, deviled eggs.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/classic-deviled-eggs-recipe/.  Instead of going through the trouble of mixing all the ingredients into the yolk, I simply cut the hard-boiled eggs (which I’d cooked over the weekend and kept chilled in the fridge) in half and putting each of the ingredients directly onto the yolk.  While it wasn’t as pretty as the normal deviled eggs, it was tasty nevertheless.

Another simple dish I often resort to is baked chicken.  It’s easy. Do the following:

  1. Get drum stick, chicken thigh, or other parts
  2. Put the chicken in a plastic bag and put in a tablespoon of salt, a little black pepper, a little minced garlic or garlic powder, a tablespoon of olive oil, and enough balsamic vinegar to coat all the chicken pieces.  If you want more depth of flavor, you can also add a spoonful of Worcestershire sauce.
  3. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or longer if possible.
  4. Preheat the oven to 390 degree Fahrenheit, line the metal tray with tin foil, then bake the chicken for about 25 minutes on the middle rack.
  5. Eat it with rice or bread and a side of salad.  It’s a very tasty, healthy and simple meal.

I also make lots of sandwiches and pasta.  Remember how I used to heat up a Italian seasoning and fresh garlic in a little butter and olive oil, then mix in pasta and sprinkle it with a little bit of Parmesan cheese before serving it to you guys?  That’s a simple dish.  You can always throw in a little basil, tomato and/or bell pepper to add more depth and dimensions.  For sandwiches or wraps, the easiest thing you can do is get a Costco roasted chicken, tear off chunks of meat and put it into a sandwich or flour tortilla, then throw in some lettuce and ranch dressing and call it good.  It is simple, healthy and delicious, remember?

Cooking doesn’t have to be hard.  Just be creative, and be caring.  Meal time was always a special time for us, remember?  We used to cook together, then everyone would sit down at the dinner table to enjoy our meal and each other’s company, remember?

Cooking is more pleasant as a group activity.  Cook with Eli.  Use the internet to find easy, 3-4 ingredient recipes.

Eat well, and breathe, my sons.

All my love, always.

Dad

4 years and 25 days. Self-regulation is critical to success.

https://i1.wp.com/biodynamichealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Fortify-yourself.-Self-regulate.-1-1080x600.pnghttps://i0.wp.com/www.snow.idrc.ocad.ca/sites/www.snow.idrc.ocad.ca/files/Figure%203.png

My dearest Shosh and Jaialai:

Your mom’s side of the family has been imploding.  The uncle who cannot drive because his driver’s license was repeatedly revoked for drug abuse is dead.  The aunt from Virginia has left her husband (an alcoholic).  The super “religious” wife of your former Marine uncle divorced him and married another guy within the same year.  Most of your adult male cousins on that side are unemployed or underemployed and have bastard children out of wedlock with unsuccessful mates who are willing to put up with such losers.  The artsy pretender who always preached to others about how to raise children the appropriate Vietnamese way has a bastard child with a Japanese name, and he is now a house husband while his Chinese wife works to support the family.  Wow.  What winners.

On the other hand, your aunts, uncles, and cousins on my side of the family have degrees in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, medicine, architecture, education, etc.  They are artistic and post on social media photos of their drawings and passions instead of meaningless drivel.

Why the difference?  The parents on both side are respectable people.  What caused the divergence in the paths of their off-springs?

One word: self-regulation.  Your mother’s side was not taught to self-regulate.  Your maternal grandfather, for example, prided himself on having never raised his voice to his children.  Your maternal grandmother did likewise.  And, what resulted?  Lazy and self-centered children (and grandchildren) who lack discipline and fortitude.  They do what feels good at the moment.  Thus, one boy is a felon with drug conviction, and most of the others stay home while their poor girlfriends work.  On the other hand, on my side, your aunts and uncles hold master’s degrees and doctorates, are professors and teachers, hold management positions in Fortune 500 companies, etc.  Your cousins on my side are likewise en route to success.

We know how to self-regulate and are self-disciplined.  On the other hand,, they needed to be regulated by their parents when their parents were still alive.  Now that your grandparents have passed away, their family is imploding.

Which path do you choose to follow?

All my love, always,

Dad